Great Balls of Holly!



We have all sorts of goodies to offer you. We had the party catered – no expense was spared!

Everybody loves shrimp…


We thought these were festive:


Anybody remember what these are? Oh, right! Caprese! Yum!




It wouldn’t be a party without a little alcohol. Or a lot…

Samara loves champagne.



Mandi mixed up some holiday punch. It packs a wallop!


Beth made these gorgeous holiday cocktails.



At the last minute, Samara snuck in some mistletoe…



We’d each like to take a moment, and share with you some of our holiday traditions.


Lizzi’s internet is being a giant asshole, so we’re stepping in to share her tradition: Lebkuchen biscuits.


Every Christmas, she grinds her own spices for these biscuits while listening to Bach’s Christmas music – specifically Tohnet ihr Pauken – and shares her baking with friends and family. Enjoy some Bach while you read the rest of the post…

For the Lebkuchen spice 2 tblsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp ground cardamom 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp ground star anise seed

If you are grinding your own spice mix, it’s worth increasing the quantities several times over and then saving the rest in an airtight container to use another day.

For the biscuits

Dry ingredients: 300g Plain white flour 100g Almonds (ground) 2 tblsp Lebkuchen spice 4tblsp Cocoa powder 1tsp Baking powder 1tsp Bicarbonate of soda

Wet ingredients: 250g Honey 85g Butter (unsalted)

~~Step 1~~ Weigh out the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Put the flour and cocoa powder through a sieve. If you ground your own spices, put the spice mix through a sieve, too. ~~Step 2~~ Melt the wet ingredients in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts and the mixture goes smooth and glossy, then pour it over the dry ingredients and mix well until the dough is combined and fairly stiff. Cover and leave to cool for 30 minutes. ~~Step 3~~ Heat oven to 180°C/355°F (fan 160°C/320°F, gas mark 4). ~~Step 4~~ Add more flour if the dough is still a bit soggy. Shape the dough into about 20 fat golf-ball sized balls. Place on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper or baking paper, leaving room for them to expand. Flatten each one with the palm of your hand to make a round biscuit about 1 cm thick. Bake for 15 minutes until just tinged brown on the edges, then cool on a wire rack.

~~Step 5~~ Enjoy the scent of baking and try not to eat the air – it’s worth waiting until the biscuits are cool and iced. ~~Step 6~~ In a small bowl, mix six heaped tblsps icing (confectioner’s) sugar with a few sploshes of amaretto until you have a smooth, runny consistency. Dip the top of half of the biscuits in the icing and leave to set. Add sprinkles as desired.

~~Step 7~~ Make a cup of tea (or coffee, or hot chocolate) and snuggle down with at least two of your freshly baked biscuits of utter AWESOMENESS. Cook’s perks, yo!



Well, I don’t have beautiful music to share, but how about a pickle? Our Christmas tradition started with pickle related gifts that my dad started getting me y-e-a-r-s ago because his nickname for me is…you guessed it, Pickle. When my kids were born, he told me about an old German Christmas Eve tradition he remembered from his childhood, where the parents hang a pickle ornament deep in the branches of the Christmas tree. In the morning, the child who finds it first gets a special gift from St. Nicholas, or the first adult to find it gets a year of good luck. Well, of course my dad found one of these pickle ornaments, and my husband and I have followed this tradition with our kids every year. They look forward to it more than anything! (do I win for weirdest tradition??)



Last year, I decided I needed to start a new tradition for myself. I live alone with my cat, and wanted to make Christmas a special time for myself independent of my family. I rushed around last minute to several stores, gathering supplies. And what I ended up doing was assembling a motley collection of international foods to enjoy on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Lebkuchen was actually one of them; now I’ll have to use Lizzi’s recipe! I intend to repeat the tradition again this year and I’m taking suggestions for international holiday food that I need to buy!


I love traditions, although I don’t have many, they give us a way to hold onto people even when they are no longer around.  My favorite tradition is one I started with my daughter the year she was born. In 2004, the Christmas movie, The Polar Express was released. In the beginning, I held her in my arms and as she slept I would imagine our future Christmas years together. Now, presently we both get our mugs of hot chocolate, put on our favorite comfy pajamas, get cozy under some soft blankets, and settle in next to our lit Christmas tree to watch our favorite Christmas movie. This year she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus but she does BELIEVE in the spirit of the tradition.  I guess you can say my daughter has taught me the magic of tradition.














Because I celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, I have several traditions. I do lots of cooking and baking for both holidays. I always bake a TON of Christmas cookies – baking is kind of my *thing.* My favorite tradition, however, is traveling up to Boston to spend Christmas with my best friend from college, and her family. She and I go waaaaay back, and we have that kind of decades-old bond that causes us to laugh constantly! Little Dude especially loves to spend Christmas there. He always ecstatic to find presents under the tree for him (we don’t have a tree). Christmas Day, we spend laughing and listening to music and the kids all hang out together while Mama and her BFF whip up an amazing holiday feast…and drink heavily.


Try a cookie!




Much of my life revolves around music, and it’s no different during the holidays. Unlike a lot of you who change the station at the first mention of “Merry,” I happen to love the music this time of year. It’s my favorite to play on the piano. It started with my grandmother. Every year around Thanksgiving, she would get her Christmas music out and line it up against the stand on the piano, and I would sit with her while she played and sang. Side note:  My grandmother (who lived to be 100) was a member of a band until she was 87 years old and traveled around the country dancing, singing, and playing the piano with her little geriatric entourage.

In honor of this tradition, I’ve adopted it into my own home. My children love music as much as I do, and they love playing the game, “Mom, can you play….?”  Throughout the month of December, my home is filled with the melody of my piano, accompanied by the two best singers I know…oh, and there’s lots of laughter.

Have yourself a Merry little....

Have yourself a Merry little….


We would love it if you would share some of YOUR favorite holiday traditions with us in the comment section.


You have helped us form a magical community, full of love and support.
Alone, we are enough; together, we are STRONGER.


Whatever is beautiful. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you happiness. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.


Beth, Mandi, Hasty, Laurie, Sandy, Lizzi and Samara